He didn't know, still, why he came back.

The only conclusion Daeron could come to was that he was a masochist, a complete masochist and a bloody idiot besides.

Certainly that, he thought wryly as he straightened, palm stained red with the mud that three days rain had made of the ground here, where once it had been firm packed undergrowth and trails. Singers said that the fall of Doriath spilled so much blood that it stained the mud forever red. Daeron suspected that things didn't work that way, but nonetheless, he could see the reasoning.

Surely enough had been spilled.

He adjusted the harp across his back and moved forward. He recognized everything, or near enough – stones fallen and crumbling, the burned out shell of a watchtower, but he looked farther.

It was not hard to find, not for him who knew these places so well so long ago. How long was it? He no longer kept track. Long enough that Lúthien the now-mortal had passed away forever, and that was long enough for him.

And it was still, even after this, a palace.

He simply stared at it for long moments, remembering how it had been when he was here, his harp and Lúthien's voice filling the hall with joy and music and sound. He had forsworn that music, though. What he played now was different.

Unslinging the case across his back, he set it down, lifted the instrument reverently, and plucked a few strings before beginning to play.

The notes fell like stones into deep, cool water, the slow and mournful voice of a lament of inexpressibly profound sadness, even before his voice joined in, and soared sweet and pure and heartbreaking in harmony with the voice of the strings.

The quiet here seemed to welcome his music, seemed to welcome that a beautiful sound could still be made here, where so much ruin had been wrought. He thought of those he had known, once, and those he had scorned, and those who had scorned him, and thought of them dead. He let the notes trail off, closed his eyes, and imagined.

He could see the air full of smoke and fire, smell blood and worse on the air. He could see them, the Sons of Fëanor, fell in their wrath, heartless, cutting down the innocents, the women, howling their triumph like demons of the Enemy himself.

Daeron's eyes snapped back open, stomach twisting in bitter anger and ever deepening sadness. So many to meet their ends here. And this was all that was left, and already soon they would be forgotten. As everyone forgets.

He set his harp in the case and put it back across his back, strode forward into the palace itself. Looking up through the cracked ceiling, he could see the trees, and the sky. He might have found it beautiful, once.

Now it was hollow.

"Forgive me," he murmured, to the stones, and ghosted through the other halls, footfalls silent, not speaking again. Just remembering, as it had been before. As it might have been during – blood on the beautiful white walls, washed clean now – and how it was after. How it would be until the world broke and swallowed Doriath in truth.

One thing he could promise, though. That one someone at least would always remember. He still had his immortality, and as he never planned to get himself killed – it would be too quick, for what he owed her, and now even more – he owed Lúthien, and he owed Doriath.

Owed it to remember, and to mourn.

Turning his back on the quiet, still trees, Daeron began his way back to the world.